Record Restriction

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If you’ve been charged and convicted of a crime, the consequences could harm your life for years. People who have records face obstacles with housing, employment, educational opportunities, and more.

There are ways to manage your reputation after you have faced a conviction. Wiping your criminal records from your past is liberating and freeing. The process can be difficult and time-consuming. However, your future and reputation are worth it!

The ease at which you can erase any evidence like mug shots or court records depends on a few things. Such as the severity of the crime, the time elapsed since committing the crime, and the disposition of your criminal case.

What is record restriction?

Record restriction (also known as expungement) is the process that restricts a person’s official criminal history report from public view (not all records are eligible). Making them visible only to law enforcement for criminal justice purposes.

Sometimes the words expungement and seal are used interchangeably, but that is not accurate. Expunging deletes the records permanently, whereas sealing them removes them from the public record.

Since there is no overarching federal law on eligibility for expungement, these laws vary state by state. Moreover, in Georgia, a law was passed on July 1, 2013, to rename this process to “Record Restriction.”

Who is eligible for expungement?

Georgia has some harsh and complex laws surrounding record restrictions. It involves a great deal of paperwork and many factors that will determine if you’re eligible to proceed.

As an overview, the steps you need to take if you want to get your record expunged depend on where you live and other factors, such as:  

  • If you were convicted of the crime, you were accused of
  • If a conviction occurred, how severe was the crime
  • How long it has been since your arrest
  • If you have completed all of the conditions the court has tasked you with, including fines, jail time, or probation
  • If you have been convicted of other crimes

The important thing is that you reach out to a lawyer to look at your specific circumstances sooner rather than later.

It can be a lengthy process. The last thing you want is for a conviction on your record that is eligible for restriction to interfere with your day-to-day life.

Even if you were not convicted, an arrest could show up on routine background checks. Potentially preventing you from traveling to certain locations, securing housing, applying for jobs, and more.

Two types of record restriction in Georgia

There are two different ways you can approach record restriction in Georgia. These are automatic record restriction and expungement by petition.

Automatic record restriction

If your case was never went up for prosecution, yet there was an arrest, your record will automatically go from public view after a set period of time.

The current time frames for automatic restriction per the severity of the crime are:

  • Misdemeanors – Two years
  • Felonies – Four years
  • Serious felonies – Seven years

In addition, one problem is that automatic restrictions are temporary. If a prosecutor picks up your case at a later date by , then your record may become public.

Petition restriction

When a record is not eligible for automatic restriction, that is when you need to file a petition to expunge your record.

Typically, the reasons for filing a petition usually fall under one of the following reasons:

  • You have a prosecution for a misdemeanor as a youth
  • They vacate or reverse your conviction reversed 
  • A felony charge has been dismissed, but you were found guilty of a lesser charge
  • You have had a case on “dead docket” for more than 12 months.

Filing a petition is a complex and case-specific task. We strongly advise you to seek the advice of an expungement lawyer to help you through the process.

If any of the circumstances surrounding automatic and petitioned record restrictions are unclear, you can consult the Georgia Code at O.C.G.A 35-3-37.

Getting the Help You Deserve

In Georgia, if you were arrested but not convicted of a crime, or the charges against you were dropped or dismissed, you can get your record expunged.

However, getting your criminal case dismissed is not the only way to expunge (restrict) your record in Georgia. There exists legal recourse under the following outcomes: Dead Docket, Youthful Offender, First Offender, Retro Active First Offender, Misdemeanor Conviction, Not On Docket Dismissal, Conditional Discharge, and more.

Therefore, you may think your criminal history record cannot be restricted because your case was not dismissed. However, it would be best if you consult with an attorney who understands all of the available procedures that can help wipe your record clean.

The LaScala Firm team understands the types of crimes that may or may not be eligible for record restriction under Georgia’s “second chance” laws. Moreover, our team can gather the necessary documentation to get your record  clean and give you the fresh start you deserve.